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Lithium Batteries Tips and Tricks

Old 12-07-2020, 09:12 PM
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Default Lithium Batteries Tips and Tricks

There is a myriad of myths and misconceptions surrounding lithium batteries for marine applications. You might've heard of a friend that was running them and the battery exploded or caught on fire resulting in significant damage to the vessel. Or that you cannot run on-board chargers with lithium. I wanted to take some time to break down these myths and really dive into the incredible benefits of lithium batteries.

Applications for lithium batteries: partnered with solar panels for energy storage for long distance cruising, trolling motor batteries, dedicated battery to run on-board electronics. Currently we DO NOT recommend lithium in engine cranking applications as the engine manufacturers do not adhere to industry standards as far as alternator specs are concerned and lithium with their battery management systems do not play well with the wide variances in specs.

Myth: The number one negative thing that people hear about these types of batteries is that they explode or catch on fire. Obviously hearing this would be a major cause of concern as nobody in their right mind would want to intentionally put something on their boat that has this potential... let alone pay a premium to do so. There is some fact to this statement, but it has to do with the chemical composition of the particular type of lithium that is used in the battery. The batteries that are using lithium polymer are MUCH less stable than later batteries that are made up of lithium phosphate. Here at Russell Marine Products we've decided to partner with Amped Outdoors for our supplier of lithium batteries. We have picked them based on internal tests that we've conducted on a variety of brands and their product was consistently out ranking other battery brands (including the big names). Matt at Amped Outdoors has thrown the gauntlet at his batteries trying to get them to catch on fire and the worst they do is smoke a little. He has punctured them, ran way too many volts to them on charging, has shorted them out, dunked them in water, ect. Bottom line here is you want to go with lithium phosphate (LifeP04) instead of lithium polymer.

Weight: Almost everyone has heard of the big benefit that switching to lithium provides.... saving weight. Lithium batteries are around a half of the weight that typical lead acid battery weighs for a given size. This can be a huge benefit in boats since they are fairly limited in carrying capacity. It doesn't take long at all when you and your three best friends grab all of your fishing gear and load a huge Yeti with refreshments to push the capacity plate pretty close (if not over) the limit. Switching your group 31 cranking battery and 3 of your trolling motor batteries to lithium can take out 200+ pounds out of the boat which is a huge savings. On live aboard cruisers that utilize solar and 10+ batteries to store energy for months at a time... lithium is the only real option.

Usable Capacity: Another benefit that a lot of our customers get confused on is the different usable capacity of lithium versus lead acid. A lot of times they see where we recommend a 60AH battery to replace their 100AH lead acid battery and worry that the lithium won't offer near the run-times that the lead acid was running. Lead acid batteries only have around 55% of the usable rated capacity. So that 100AH lead acid only really offers 55 AH of true capacity. Lithium however offers 95% usable capacity. So a true 100AH lithium battery has SUBSTANTIALLY more run time than a 100AH lead acid. Another benefit, mostly for running trolling motors, is that lithium does not fade in power as it is discharged. Most people running lead acid's for their trolling motor might've notice that the motor doesn't have nearly the power at the end of the day as it did in the beginning. It sort of fades as the day goes on even though it still has plenty of capacity left. With lithium you will get the same power to the motor rather or not you just dropped the boat in or you're making your last cast after a full hard day of fishing.

Charging: Currently we offer three different charging options for 12V and one option for the single 36V trolling motor battery. The only option for the 36V trolling motor battery is the included on-board 36V charger. As for the 12V options, the 3a charger is for batteries below 30AH. The 10a charger is for 30AH and higher. Both of these chargers are not water proof and so we do not recommend them for on-board charging. Currently the only recommended on-board charger for 12V Amped Outdoor batteries is the Minn Kota Precision chargers and you must run these in the AGM setting.

Series and Parallel: All of the lithium batteries we sell can be wired in parallel. You do have to make sure that you are using the same capacity for all batteries wired in parallel or series. Currently only the 60AH and 100AH 12V batteries can be wired in series. Wiring batteries in parallel will stack the capacity and wiring in series stacks the voltage. For example, if you wire two 100Ah 12V batteries in parallel you would have 200AH total capacity and still have 12V. If you wire them in series you would have the same 100AH but now 24V.

Lifespan: Just like the weight benefit, most people know that lithium lasts longer than lead acid. But few truly understand the ins and outs of the lifespan of lithium batteries. Most people will get caught up on the "charge life cycles" of different lithium batteries. Most of these range in the 2000 to 5000 charge cycles for the lifespan. One charge cycle is fully depleting the battery and charging it back up to 100%. So if you drain it 50% and then charge it to 100% twice that equals one charge cycle. For the vast majority of marine applications for lithium batteries, measuring the lifespan in charge cycles is pointless. The main reason for this is that all lithium starts to decay around the 10 year mark. If you were on the very bottom of the 2000 - 5000 charge cycle for lifespan (your lithium battery lasted 2000 charge cycles) that would mean you averaged completely draining and recharging your battery over 3.5 times per week, every week for 10 years straight. If you were lucky and it lasted 5000 cycles you would've completely drained and recharged the battery over 9.5 times every single week for 10 years straight. In almost all applications, the lithium will start to decay well before the charge cycle lifespan is hit.

The Future for Dedicated Power to Marine Electronics: NMC (Nickle, Manganese, Cobalt) is a different chemical compound for lithium. These batteries operate at 16.8V when fully charged and 12V when fully depleted. The vast array of marine electronics are rated to handle 17+ volts so this is still within spec of what they can handle. The biggest advantages with NMC is that they are half the weight of lithium phosphate for the same capacity and that they completely eliminate low voltage issues due to the battery. In most of our testing marine electronics will start to experience bad returns on sonar, or glitches when the voltage drops below 11.5V. Around 9V the unit shuts off completely. The NMC fully discharges at 12V so you will never run into a low voltage situation. Voltage to our marine electronics is similar to oxygen to humans. Imagine running a mile while breathing through a straw. More than likely you will faint due to the limited amount of oxygen while your body is under stress. Now imagine running a mile while wearing an oxygen mask and breathing in 100% oxygen. You would run with much less fatigue than breathing normally through your mouth and it wouldn't even be a comparison to that straw mentioned earlier. The NMC (with the higher voltage) is the equivalent to running the oxygen mask for your electronics. The downside to these batteries is that you will need a specific 16.8V charger and that you cannot use these for anything but running as a dedicated electronics battery. We do not recommend these for trolling motor applications and NMC cannot be wired in series. Unfortunately we are still currently evaluating and testing this new technology with the possibility of carrying NMC batteries in the near future. So far, this looks to be a very promising alternative to strictly powering sonar units.




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Old 12-11-2020, 12:23 PM
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Great write up, just one question: how to go about having multiple outboards charge one house bank with Lithium batteries. I am talking 12V only.
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Old 12-13-2020, 06:10 AM
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Winter storage in Northeast? I have 3 Amped outdoors 12 volt 60 ah batteries and have been impressed. I am using the Minn Kota Precision onboard charger . Should I store them over the winter at full charge ? Should I take them out of boat?
Old 12-13-2020, 07:20 AM
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What’s the price on 3 12v 60ah for 36v trolling motor? Would also like a price on 3 100ah.
Old 12-17-2020, 03:59 PM
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Currently we do not recommend using engine alternators to charge lithium batteries due to the differences in alternator specs not falling in the range of the BMS specifications.
Old 12-17-2020, 04:01 PM
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Your thoughts on b to b chargers for lithium batteries?
Old 12-17-2020, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by firechief View Post
Winter storage in Northeast? I have 3 Amped outdoors 12 volt 60 ah batteries and have been impressed. I am using the Minn Kota Precision onboard charger . Should I store them over the winter at full charge ? Should I take them out of boat?
I would recommend removing them and putting them in room temperature for best results. Charge them all the way up and then remove the charger, every month or two put another full charge on them.
Old 12-17-2020, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Ebuck1 View Post
What’s the price on 3 12v 60ah for 36v trolling motor? Would also like a price on 3 100ah.
$1,079.97 (3 12v 60AH)
$2,099.97 (3 12v 100AH)
Old 12-17-2020, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by RMP Sales View Post
Currently we do not recommend using engine alternators to charge lithium batteries due to the differences in alternator specs not falling in the range of the BMS specifications.
This makes it useless on offshore going boats. Yet, Victron and Mastervolt advertise it.

please clarify.
Old 12-18-2020, 05:41 AM
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Originally Posted by RMP Sales View Post
$1,079.97 (3 12v 60AH)
$2,099.97 (3 12v 100AH)
When can U deliver the amped lithiums? Where can I buy from U, website? They do not have bluetooth integrated in them , like some of tge otter lithiums?
Old 12-18-2020, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Flying_Norseman View Post
This makes it useless on offshore going boats. Yet, Victron and Mastervolt advertise it.

please clarify.
There are certain manufacturers that advertise cranking batteries in Lithium, the two biggest issues from our testing has been reliability and also most of them do not produce enough cranking amps before the BMS shuts it off. (most lithium tops out around 800 cranking amps before that happens) Lead Acid definitely has the advantage in terms of dumping a ton of amps (1000+) to start these bigger modern engines.

In terms of offshore applications, we are seeing a lot of interest in bay boats for reducing the weight of trolling motor batteries. We are starting to see some interest in guys running dedicated lithium batteries just for the electronics as this eliminates running down a cranking battery while fishing and can't start the motor. Also for the offshore sailboat cruisers, lithium is the only real choice to store a ton of energy for months at a time without adding thousands of pounds of weight.

Last edited by RMP Sales; 12-18-2020 at 10:59 AM.
Old 12-18-2020, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by LBI View Post
When can U deliver the amped lithiums? Where can I buy from U, website? They do not have bluetooth integrated in them , like some of tge otter lithiums?
You can purchase them through our website at www.russellmarineproducts.com or by calling 316-313-4113. Unfortunately most of these batteries are on backorder until January / February timeline.
Old 12-19-2020, 01:37 PM
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Just to clarify you can charge these with a precision onboard charger. And what’s the timeline for the 12v 100ah. I’m new to lithium and about burnt out on reading so sorry if this has been asked earlier. Thanks

Last edited by Ebuck1; 12-19-2020 at 02:23 PM.
Old 12-19-2020, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by RMP Sales View Post
There are certain manufacturers that advertise cranking batteries in Lithium, the two biggest issues from our testing has been reliability and also most of them do not produce enough cranking amps before the BMS shuts it off. (most lithium tops out around 800 cranking amps before that happens) Lead Acid definitely has the advantage in terms of dumping a ton of amps (1000+) to start these bigger modern engines.

In terms of offshore applications, we are seeing a lot of interest in bay boats for reducing the weight of trolling motor batteries. We are starting to see some interest in guys running dedicated lithium batteries just for the electronics as this eliminates running down a cranking battery while fishing and can't start the motor. Also for the offshore sailboat cruisers, lithium is the only real choice to store a ton of energy for months at a time without adding thousands of pounds of weight.
Well, Mercury require AGM starting batteries with 800CCA so that leaves any Lithium starting battery out of the equation. However, many of us would love to have the “Magic” boxes in my other thread identified and explore those options. With 3/4/5 engines running back there, each with an alternator producing 70A - 135A, there just has to be a way to charge a house bank of Lithium batteries safely. So far I have not found a system that will do so, but once I do I sure will dig in and see if I can use it. If I can, I will buy it. In my case there is 3 Verado I-6’s back there, and I would love to run my 110V AC unit of 16K BTU off of my house bank via an inverter without draining the batteries as long as I am cruising.
Old 12-21-2020, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Ebuck1 View Post
Just to clarify you can charge these with a precision onboard charger. And what’s the timeline for the 12v 100ah. I’m new to lithium and about burnt out on reading so sorry if this has been asked earlier. Thanks
That's correct, the Minn Kota Precision charger is currently the only on-board charger we recommend with the Amped Outdoors Lithium batteries. You have to use the AGM setting.

Timeline is currently looking like end of January, first part of February.
Old 12-21-2020, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Flying_Norseman View Post
Well, Mercury require AGM starting batteries with 800CCA so that leaves any Lithium starting battery out of the equation. However, many of us would love to have the “Magic” boxes in my other thread identified and explore those options. With 3/4/5 engines running back there, each with an alternator producing 70A - 135A, there just has to be a way to charge a house bank of Lithium batteries safely. So far I have not found a system that will do so, but once I do I sure will dig in and see if I can use it. If I can, I will buy it. In my case there is 3 Verado I-6’s back there, and I would love to run my 110V AC unit of 16K BTU off of my house bank via an inverter without draining the batteries as long as I am cruising.
Yeah, we will continue to explore and test different products to pair with these batteries. Obviously the biggest challenge right now is finding a reliable way to charge them via alternators. We understand this is a huge deal for most people.
Old 01-02-2021, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by RMP Sales View Post
Yeah, we will continue to explore and test different products to pair with these batteries. Obviously the biggest challenge right now is finding a reliable way to charge them via alternators. We understand this is a huge deal for most people.

yes please - develop a standard. I had planned on running lithium but since they were out for cranking and you can't mix agm & lithium to be charged by outboards I had to stick with the old tech. There has to be a simple work around that would isolate and regulate the amps and voltages.

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